My review of Episode 4 after the jump. You can read previous reviews here.
In my review of the Season 4 premiere, I said that my concern about The Game is that the new season's focus on melodrama suggests that Mara Brock Akil has fundamentally misread what about the show the audience loved.
Four episodes in, I'm convinced that this is the case.
The Malik the Asshole story is a disaster. It is over the top, poorly written, and almost completely without motivation. And it isn't at all what any of us who wanted The Game back wanted to see on the show. And not because we don't want to see Malik grow or change or go through something big, but because nothing makes any damn sense in the story. It is just pure spectacle.
I still couldn't tell you what the hell is bothering Malik that would cause him to be this self-destructive for this long. As I said last week, we were first led to believe that his anger comes from his treatment by the Sabers, then it was Tee Tee moving on, now we are supposed to believe that he might have a drinking problem. It could very well be a combination of the three. Who knows? And at this point, who cares?
The story is developing in such a way that you get the impression that the show just expects you to enjoy the downfall and not pay attention to the fact that you don't really even know why any of this is happening. It is playing like a telenovela. Which would be fine if The Game were a telenovela and if any of the other storylines played similarly. But none of that is the case.
And it's a shame because Hosea Chanchez' work this season is every bit as good as it was promoted to be. Had this story been more effectively rendered, I have every confidence that we'd really enjoy what he's bringing to the table.
But the show keeps blowing key opportunities to give us the vulnerability, the heart of what is motivating Malik right now. The writers just keep making Malik belligerent and unyielding. No one can seem to get through to him, not Meagan Good's character, not Jason, not even his damn mama.
And she's the person who should have gotten through to him. The scene with Tasha and Malik would have been the perfect opportunity for this to happen. But for whatever reason, the writers chose to try to play the scene for humor. That scene should have been the opportunity for Tasha to snap Malik's ass back to reality. She needed to play the mama card and get to the bottom of what is motivating his behavior because the stakes are so high and, more importantly, because we the audience need that information to be invested in the story. And it would have more adequately set up the final press conference scene emotionally for the audience.
But, strangely, the writers think the press conference scene is the big emotional moment. And like last week when they fumbled the emotional possibilities of Malik's call to Tee Tee, the press conference scene is ultimately just confusing. Malik's behavior in the scene was prompted by nothing emotionally. We saw no indication that he would do the press conference, that he would admit to having a problem so we don't know whether he's playing the game or whether there's a hint of realness there. Chanchez played it very straight so you think he might really have turned a corner, but nothing that preceded that scene gave us any hint as to what could have facilitated that.
I imagine the budget concerns are forcing the writers to write episodes around one or two storylines because they simply can't afford to have all six of the main actors plus assorted guest stars (especially a potentially expensive actress like Meagan Good) in every episode so they can dribble things out over each episode. But it doesn't serve the stories, the writers, or the overall quality of the show very well. If they are going to write showcase episodes for each of the storylines, the writers can't cut corners. They are going to have to shove what should be two or three episodes worth of character development into one episode.
But real talk, this season is a wash. The entire 13-episode order has been written, shot and produced. It is just doubtful that the problems that we are seeing in these first four episodes will be worked out in the final 9, unless of course those 9 episodes feature all six main actors and are written more like the CW version (or, at the very least, the second episode).
- Meagan Good seems an expensive guest star to have for what is, so far, a wasted character. They should have hired an unknown and used the rest of the money to keep Brittany Daniel as a full-time regular. Good is talented but she really has to stop playing roles like this, especially if the role is so underwritten.
- I get that Melanie could have been seduced over the past two years to be more in love with the lifestyle of a rich woman, but it is so jarring when this new materialistic Melanie comes out of nowhere. She's always been the one character who hated the way "the game" is played. For her to be so okay, even just for a little while, with Derwin thinking about his career first, Malik second was just bizarre.
- The Tasha/Derwin scene outside Malik's home started funny but the scene lasted too long. The writers seem to want comedic scenes to go on forever, even as their dramatic writing demonstrates a strange tendency toward shorthand. The reverse is what we need. It's screenwriting 101.
- The scene where Malik goes off during Jason's interview was by far the best written Malik scene so far. Chanchez and Coby Bell played every beat of that scene magnificently. However, given how ridiculous Jason has been behaving it was a little weird for him to tell Malik that he was fuckin up. Just underscores how completely oblivious and unself-conscious all the characters have become.
- Always nice to see Bumper Robinson.
- Tee Tee trying to get his logo in the background of his lil spot was the funniest moment of a show that is not bringing nearly enough laughs.